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The Brilliant Club - route into teaching for PhDs
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TeachMakan · 28/04/2021 14:46

Hi, would appreciate guidance. I seem to have reached the end of my career in academic research. I am in my mid-40s with a biomedical PhD and 25 years or so working in research labs. I am looking at a switch to teaching and came across the Brilliant Club, specifically the Researchers in Schools programme:
thebrilliantclub.org/researchers-in-schools/
Would be great to know if anyone has come across this before, and have any views or guidance? Want to make sure it is not a scam - and also would appreciate any advice on teacher training (primary or secondary) as a late stage convert from the lab bench!
Many thanks.

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cantkeepawayforever · 28/04/2021 21:50

My route from lab bench to (primary) teacher was more circuitous, but tbh I just went through the normal PGCE route.

I don't use my 'Dr' title, and I had to deal with the trials of getting a 1st job when I was older (and on paper 'better qualified') than my interviewers - though you would encounter this less in secondary schools, especially those like grammar or private schools that might find that particular type of academic background a selling point rather than somewhat alien!

I would advise, above all, spending time in school (preferably several of different types) as a volunteer or observer before you even think about it. It's hard in Covid times, but as the pandemic (hopefully) eases, you may find schools more willing to take on volunteers. I had a retired secondary science teacher who came in for my Science lessons in primary, for example, and she was an absolute godsend - but even just volunteering to go in and hear readers just gives you that experience of being in a school that can give you a feeling about whether this would be a good direction to move in.

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ValancyRedfern · 28/04/2021 22:27

I have a friend who did some work with the Brilliant Club. Not sure of the details but it's not a scam. Definitely try to get some time in schools, especially to pin point if you want to do primary or secondary. You will be in great demand in secondary science! (IMHO definitely use your 'dr' title, whichever area you go for, it will be an inspiration for the students)

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cantkeepawayforever · 28/04/2021 23:36

it will be an inspiration for the students

I talk about it with the children I teach . For the Heads, younger than me, who I wanted to give me a job as an NQT .... not so much!

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Piggywaspushed · 29/04/2021 06:56

I have heard of this but never come across it in real life. I think research was a Big Thing in education a few years ago but has never massively taken off (there are / were research Schools) because of time and energy.

I am wary of this programme. It sounds like they want you to do two /three things at once! If you start 'telling ' staff what to do and what to know , I can see that might get others' backs up if not managed very well when you are a trainee.

I work with a NQT PhD . She is lovely and great but she does not know more about teaching or the subject (relevant to teaching it to 13-18 year olds) than me in all honesty! I don't imagine she for one moment thinks she does.

I'd just go the normal routes! You aren't really even all that old for training. I know lots in their late 40s/50s.

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TeachMakan · 30/04/2021 11:34

Hi everyone, thanks very much for your comments. Good to know it’s not too late to consider retraining @Piggywaspushed. That was a concern.

It does sound like the normal training routes, and trying to get some time in schools, could be the way forward.

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Loshad · 30/04/2021 22:17

I have a PhD, and was a late convert to school teaching ( i had been uni teaching for quite some time)
I went down the traditional PGCE route, as did all the other PhDs in my department (another 6 )
I haven’t heard of this initiative tbh
It took quite a while! For me to learn to teach school kids, there is a lot of banding on about your subject knowledge ( i knew all that shit) but learning to impart it to kids of all levels is a whole different ball game. I tried really hard to take on board all feedback, and I reckon I was an ok teacher only after a couple of years, and another couple to get to good. I bloody love it now, and in normal times my results are amongst the best in school, consistently, but the transition is stark.

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Loshad · 30/04/2021 22:19

I was also a late convert from lab, retrained in my early 40s and wasn’t the oldest on the course.

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NotAPenguin · 01/05/2021 10:18

I am a late convert to science teaching in my late 40s (but via an unrelated career) and there are a couple of late convert PhDs in my department. I think it maybe depends on the attitude of the head but it definitely doesn't need to be a barrier. I think private schools like having Drs, state schools seem less interested either way.

The Brilliant club works with my school (though not sure they have done this year). I don't know much about it but the kids who have been involved are very enthusiastic and definitely not a scam.

I applied via Now Teach who specialise in getting career changers into teaching. You can train via any route and be supported by them. Importantly for me you do a 4 day week in your training year and it gives you a network of like minded people. Have a chat to them, I don't think there's anything to lose by applying through them.

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LEAIssues · 04/10/2021 03:15

My daughter was chosen as one of 2 students in her year (270) to take part inThe Brilliant Club last year. She was mentored by a PhD student throughout the course who taught her modules of a topic every week and marked her essays etc. The mentor also tried to encourage these students by talking about university life etc. Daughter enjoyed the course. Definitely not a scam.

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Foxyloxy1plus1 · 04/10/2021 16:13

What Loshad said is very true. If you have a PhD you are very much on top of your subject area and probably find it easy to understand. You have to acknowledge that your students might feel very differently from you. One of my jobs was an advisory teacher, visiting a number of schools. One newly qualified Science teacher had a PhD, was fearsomely intelligent, but just couldn’t get to grips with teaching his subject to the students and as a result, struggled to manage in the classroom.

Go for it, but bear in mi d that the students you teach won’t all have the same enthusiasm or interest in your subject as you do and that you might have to adjust your expectations.

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PhysicsCat · 04/10/2021 20:02

I have mentored someone doing this route. You are expected to take on classes straight away after their summer holiday training programme and have a day per week out of the classroom continuing an academic research project.

Financially it is an attractive route in due to the RiS uplift but that comes with a little resentment from the qualified teachers you are earning more than.

They like to place in areas with a limited uptake of university level education. We’re not in that category but they do insist on strong subject mentoring.

I did the same transition but through a more traditional route. My previous career left me with the subject knowledge for physics and the study skills to get my bio and chem up to scratch. Nothing prior to training prepared me for bottom set y9 on a wet windy Wednesday afternoon in February.

For the right person RiS is great but I think you learn more about teaching from a pgce or schools direct course.

My trainee is still in the dept and is a good teacher they did struggle to carve out a role with adequate salary when the RiS uplift ended.

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